The Maestro was asking his wife this, his voice nearly cracking with incredulity, as I leaned over my broad slice of deep dish mushroom pizza. Mrs. Maestro, looked at him somewhat blankly, her catlike eyes almost weary. “Yes,” she replied. “It was in ‘The Phantom Menace.'”
The Maestro shook his head dejectedly. “I must’ve blocked out more the prequels than I’d appreciated,” he sighed.
I smirked, and took another bite of my pizza. We’d chosen My Pi Pizzeria in Bucktown for this week’s foray, a joint described by one online article as “under the radar.” Upon arriving at the place, my observation was that not only was it under the radar, it was barely, like, visible from the street.
My Pi is kinda of a step up from a pizza cart, indoors. It’s got kind of deli vibe or coffee joint; you go in, you order at a counter, and, if you’re lucky, one of the barstools lined up against the window isn’t taken as you wait for your pizza “barista” to heat up your order. I arrived after the Maestro and the Mrs., and asked, “So, is it any good?”
“The pizza’s really good,” Maestro replied, through a mouthful of deep dish– which, I noted, was a departure for him. Getting The Maestro to eat deep dish is like getting him to watch the Star Wars prequels (a feat, I might add, I’m going to accomplish come next Monday, at my 39th birthday party. What can I say, I like testing the limits of friendship). “But the staff’s kind of rude.”
I frowned, turning to the counter. Rude staff would certainly be further the “pizza deli” vibe of the tiny place. “What’s up, brother?” the clerk asked me as I approached.
“Hey, man, can I get a deep dish slice of today’s veggie special?” I asked.
“It’s mushroom today, that cool?” he replied.
“Totally, man, ” I said. “Thanks.”
“No worries. Be up in a sec.”
SUCH RUDENESS. I glanced back at the Maestro, and shrugged.
(Incidentally, my girlfriend claims I have a vernacular I employ when speaking one-on-one with other men. She calls it “Dr. Doyle talks to guys,” and insists that its defining characteristics are increased incidences of “dude” and “man” slipping into may speech patterns, often followed by meaningful hand clasps. Her hypothesis seems to be it’s an instinct I’ve developed over years of being a dating and relationship coach, teaching men how to not be creepers when they’re trying to attract the attention and affection of ladies. I usually reply to these assertions with a sharp grunt-snarf-grunt combination.)
My weighty slice appeared in a minute or two, and as I sat there, listening to the Maestro discuss, with amazement, how may crucial story point details from the Star Wars prequels he’d straight up dissociated, I couldn’t help but notice that this pizza slice, a stack of deep red sauce shot through with dark chunks of mushroom stop a just-crispy enough golden brown crust, was pretty much the epitome of what any reasonable human being would want out of a slice of mushroom pizza.
The crust deserves special mention. The thing I flashed back to, upon biting into it, was it was just the kind of buttery, crispy-but-soft consistency that I used to associate, way the hell ago, with Pizza Hut breadsticks. If you were a fan of these things, you know exactly the kind of golden brown rapture I mean. The crust was so tasty that I found myself actually breaking off little chunks of it to munch on, independently of my slice. For that matter, I find my mouth kind of watering as I write about it now. I know the Maestro’s not really a crust guy, but hell yes, the crust can be make or break for me.
The sauce was a thick, heavy layer of tomato, which could maybe even be described as “creamy” if it was a touch less thick. Between crust and sauce, the slice held itself together with just the right amount of integrity. And the mushrooms? This thing was loaded with mushrooms, exactly the way you want it to be– not too many that they’re spilling off your pizza and making a goddamn mess of things, but enough that you get the meaty texture and understand saltiness of the fungus in every bite.
“You do remember the pod race from Episode I, don’t you?” I asked. “I mean, if there’s anything from the prequels that should have stuck with you, it’d be that.”
“I remember a video game about the pod race,” was the Maestro’s response, before chomping into his third slice.
My Pi is “under the radar” insofar as you wouldn’t really call it a pizza “restaurant;” it’s a joint, a deli, probably the kind of place you wanna plan on picking up a slice to go rather than take your chances with the bar stools. But it’s got a good vibe, staff that was cool to me– apparently the dudespeak has its advantages, Roosh V notwithstandng– and pizza by the slice that hits all the bases.
I’ll be back, if only for a slice at a time.